Could Qanon Reign Mean the "End Times" for Democracy?
The “Philosophers,” “Thieving Scoundrels” and “Foreign Enemies” are having a collective moment that could take down America.
There are people in this world who don’t like —and even hate — democracy. They’re on the move against it, particularly here in America, and the Qanon religion/cult is the glue that’s bringing them all together.
One group doesn’t like democracy because they don’t trust the “ignorant masses” and the “rabble“ to choose leaders who can make decisions for an entire country. They’re the “Philosopher” opposers of democracy.
They’re well-represented in America by a large handful of rightwing billionaires and their “libertarian” think-tanks and front groups working against, for example, HR1/SB1 For The People Act.
Some hate democracy because they’re members of the “faction” class that James Madison warned us about in Federalist #10; the special interests. They’re the “Thieving Scoundrel” opposers of democracy.
These would be the giant businesses (and the billionaires they produce) that want to keep their profits high by poisoning our air, water and food; running giant monopolies to stomp out small businesses; or otherwise rip off America and Americans…and don’t want “we the people” to be able to protect ourselves through government regulation.
And some hate democracy because they’re running undemocratic, authoritarian governments outside the US, and if they can destroy democracy in America it’ll take a lot of pressure off of them. They’re the “Foreign Enemies” of democracy.
All three of these groups have found common cause in a collective takeover of the Republican Party and the embrace of Qanon. And, ironically, they all claim to be “defending democracy” in the process.
Voltaire wrote, “[W]hoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
That was just the first part of the quote; he was speaking specifically of the many absurdities embraced by our various religions. Which now includes Qanon, a pseudo-religion apparently started by an American pig farmer who lives in The Philippines.
It’s burrowed so deeply into the bloodstream of conventional American religion that the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention worried out loud on CNN that it’s replacing churches as parishioner’s primary religion. “[P]astors only have access to people maybe an hour or three hours a day, that's nothing compares to 24 hours a day from Facebook,” he told Erin Burnett.
While much of white evangelical Christianity has long tilted Republican, QAnon is not just Republican but anti-democracy, anti-American, pro-oligarch Republican. The Michael Flynn variety of Republican.
One in six Americans, according to a recent PRRI survey, today “believes” in the Qanon conspiracy, including the part about Democrats drinking the blood of children. Given that about a third of Americans are Republicans, and virtually all of those believers identify as Republicans, that suggests that between a third and half of all Republican voters have bought into this new secular religion/cult.
And elected Republicans are, almost to a person, either supportive of this new religion or silent on the issue.
As Voltaire said in the rest of his quote, “If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives all those crimes of religion which have overrun the world.”
While religion generally has achieved an uneasy truce with democracy, the three groups mentioned earlier who openly hate and regularly work to destroy democracy have found QAnon and the general gullibility it creates in its “believers” to be extraordinarily useful.
The “Philosophers,” “Thieving Scoundrels” and “Foreign Enemies” who collectively want to bring down democracy around the world are actively promoting the various parts of the Qanon religion that each finds most useful.
The “Philosophers” use it to promote doubt about the accuracy and fairness of elections and the democratic process.
The “Thieving Scoundrels” use it to portray government efforts to reduce inequality and poverty, protect citizens from a deadly pandemic, and regulate the activity of toxic, planet-destroying industries as if they were all parts of an “evil conspiracy.”
And the “Foreign Enemies” are popping up all over social media and the internet, portraying themselves as “average people” while doing everything they can to use this new religion to stir hatred and division among Americans.
Because if democracy can be taken down in America, the oligarchs and autocrats of the world will find it much easier to bring down elsewhere.
They’re already working as hard as they can to bring authoritarian/oligarchic governance to Europe, having established beachheads in Sweden, France, Germany and England and completely taken over Turkey, Hungary and Poland.
Democracy is a fragile flame. While it burned brightly in indigenous societies for over 100,000 years, since the agricultural revolution it has only appeared a few times among what we referred to as “civilized” or “advanced” societies.
It first popped up in Greece about 3000 years ago, then in Rome around 2000 years ago; both times it failed in a few generations. It then made its appearance here in North America about 240 years ago, and now has spread to roughly half of all nations, about a fifth of the population of the world.
From the Republican Party’s efforts to rig future elections to General Michael Flynn calling for the violent overthrow of the American government to billionaire-owned or -subsidized media operations openly supporting oligarchy and ridiculing efforts to make a more pluralistic, egalitarian society, the forces that seek to destroy democracy are on the move.
The “Philosophers,” “Thieving Scoundrels” and “Foreign Enemies” are having their collective moment.
Qanon believers are now convinced that Donald Trump will return to his throne in the White House this August. Many have sworn to do everything they can to bring that about, making anything from another January 6th to mass murder like Tim McVeigh did possible.
As that recent PRRI poll found, about 1/6th of Americans agree with the statement that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.” The New York Times headline reads: QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions.
They believe absurdities, and are prepared to commit atrocities. Democracy in America — and around the world — hangs by a thread.
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If you’d like to do a deeper dive on these topics, I’ve written a series of small, quickly-read books breaking them down.
The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment describes that Amendment’s roots in the Southern Slave Patrols and how American policing grew out of that and is used today as a violent system of control against marginalized people.
The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America lays out how a corruptly-stacked Supreme Court is the principal instrument that brought us here.
The Hidden History of the War on Voting describes the processes through which oligarchs corrupted the Republican Party and the American political system.
The Hidden History of Monopolies describes how the oligarchic class, exploiting weaknesses within our political system, managed to seize control of virtually our entire economy, giving them massive political power.
The Hidden History of American Oligarchy reveals the two previous times in this country when we almost tipped over into oligarchy [the Civil War era and the attempts to overthrow Franklin Roosevelt] and exposes oligarch efforts to pull it off again today and how we can stop them.
And The Hidden History of American Healthcare shows how the most important and central function of government — maintaining the health and well-being of its people — has been co-opted and seized by a small group of “healthcare oligarchs” and how a Medicare For All system can overthrow much of their power and end their plunder of the American middle class.
All are available through your favorite bookseller.